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How Panel CEO Andrew Franz Is Shaking Up Influencer-Brand Deals

How Panel CEO Andrew Franz Is Shaking Up Influencer-Brand Deals

Panel, a startup founded by former investment banking analyst Andrew Franz, is refining creator-brand collaborations. Launched just over a year ago, the company is quickly gaining traction by addressing long-standing inefficiencies in the influencer marketing space. With a unique blend of performance-based compensation models and detailed analytics, Panel is not just facilitating partnerships – it’s optimizing them. Andrew’s insights on the future of content creation and his company’s innovative solutions are drawing attention from marketers and creators alike. He discusses his journey, Panel’s creative approach, and his vision for the future of influencer marketing.

After a brief stint as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank, Andrew pivoted to entrepreneurship, leveraging his finance background and newfound interest in influencer marketing. “I got quite obsessed with the space while working for a digital advertising company focused on affiliate marketing.” This experience catalyzed his decision to launch Panel.

Andrew describes Panel as a platform for “data-driven influencer marketing,” designed to create sustainable campaigns that benefit all parties involved. “We just try to build sustainable campaigns where everybody makes money,” he explains. “The influencers are happy and can make money promoting stuff all the time. The brands are making money on every post. And Panel makes money on every post.” 

The company’s approach addresses what Andrew perceives as a significant gap in the industry. He challenges the prevailing flat-fee model, advocating for performance-based compensation structures. “For the people that have strong engagement and can perform, there’s no reason they should ever be taking a flat fee,” the industry veteran asserts. “They should always structure it [based] on some KPI, with upside.”

Andrew’s vision for Panel stems from his observations of missed opportunities in deal structuring and performance tracking. “I’ve seen somebody that probably would have gotten a 1K flat fee that has performed and get 10K, [tenfold] what they would have gotten paid by just structuring things slightly differently.”

Panel’s Approach: Maximizing Value

According to Andrew, Panel’s core mission is to “maximize economics for clients on both sides of the equation.” The company aims to drive high-performing media for advertisers while ensuring influencers are well-compensated, creating what Andrew calls an “economic engine where everybody benefits.”

Operating as a broker for brand deals, Panel advises advertisers on optimal strategies for influencer media buying. The company’s approach often involves creative compensation based on user engagement, hybrid flat fees, app installs, sign-ups, or purchases.

For creators, Panel offers a gamified app that Andrew likens to the Robinhood trading platform. “It’s much like earning money… your earnings are down today versus yesterday. Here are some ideas for making more money again,” he explains. The app also streamlines payments, allowing creators to cash out their balances within a week, reducing the industry’s typical longer payment terms.

On the advertiser side, Panel provides detailed performance metrics. “We track everything from view to click to conversion,” Andrew states. “We look at effective CPMs against CACs, click cost per click, and cost per acquisition.”

Andrew believes Panel’s differentiators include strong creator relationships and a data-centric approach. “One thing many platforms lack is personal relationships with creators,” he notes. “You can have a cool piece of technology, but if you don’t have 50 good creators, you can call and get them going within a day or a week… the platform isn’t that useful.”

The CEO also highlights the company’s performance marketing focus, which he attributes to his background in affiliate marketing. “Most people are more from creative or brand marketing, and true performance marketing is less prevalent in this space,” Andrew observes, pinning Panel’s data-driven methodology as a key advantage in influencer marketing.

Ensuring Sustainable Monetization for Creators

Panel’s approach to helping creators monetize their content effectively centers on maintaining a diverse portfolio of high-yielding advertising opportunities. Andrew explains, “We just ensure that we have a roster of advertisers at all times that have high effective yields on views – $20, $30 CPMs, effectively.”

The company’s flexibility in payment structures allows for optimization across different campaigns. “Sometimes they’re paid as CPM, sometimes as conversion, sometimes they’re paid flat rates,” Andrew notes. “But I always back it into the effective per view yield so you can compare across advertisers.”

He highlights a success story involving a cash-back rewards program. By leveraging YouTube pre-roll ads and carefully selected influencers, Panel helped scale the client’s influencer marketing efforts dramatically. “I bet they were doing about 10k a month with influencers… [we scaled them] to close to 500K a month,” Andrew recalls.

This case study demonstrates Panel’s ability to optimize campaigns based on specific metrics – in this instance, program sign-ups. Andrew attributes this success to the company’s understanding of ad creation, placement, and audience targeting.

Furthermore, Panel’s approach often involves translating performance-based deals into more predictable compensation structures for creators. “A lot of times, I’ll even turn that into a flat rate or a view-based deal for the creator,” Andrew explains the company’s commitment to ensuring all parties benefit from their collaborations.

How Panel CEO Andrew Franz Is Shaking Up Influencer-Brand Deals

The Business Awareness Gap in the Creator Space 

Andrew offers a focused definition of the creator economy, emphasizing brand partnerships as the most financially significant aspect. “For me, the part that excites me is the brand partnerships with creators,” he states, highlighting this area as his primary focus within the broader social media and influencer marketing ecosystem.

The former financial analyst believes creators face significant challenges today. “It’s a massively competitive space,” he notes, pointing out the difficulty of translating online popularity into a sustainable career. “Turning following and any online clout into an actual career is hard.”

A vital issue Andrew identifies is the need for more business acumen among many creators. “A lot of creators don’t have a perfect business sense or excellent mentorship around them,” he explains. According to him, this can lead to financial mismanagement, especially given the volatile nature of creator income.

Panel supports its creators by offering mentorship and business guidance. Andrew spends considerable time advising creators on financial planning and investment decisions. “Teaching them how to do basic modeling and forecasting. I spend a lot of time doing that,” he says.

Additionally, Panel aims to provide consistent monetization opportunities for its creators. “We’ll always have something for them to help pay their bills,” Andrew asserts the company’s support for creators’ financial stability, even if not every opportunity is a high-profile, big-budget partnership.

How Panel CEO Andrew Franz Is Shaking Up Influencer-Brand Deals

Facilitating Effective Brand-Creator Partnerships

Panel plays a crucial role in fostering collaborations between creators and brands, leveraging technology and data-driven strategies. Andrew explains, “We’ll get conversion postbacks and set up affiliate tracking software… From there, we’ll call our network of creators we think are a good fit.”

The company’s approach streamlines the negotiation process using predictive modeling to determine fair pricing. “We kind of build models that price things out,” Andrew notes. “If people are okay with the price, we’ll put them in the campaign; if not, we pass.”

Panel manages the entire process, from briefing creators and providing tracking links to ad creation, approval, and performance analysis. This comprehensive service ensures the smooth execution of partnerships.

Andrew highlights a recent collaboration with Homesick Candles. This partnership allowed Panel to test various social media formats, yielding valuable insights. “We tested stuff across the short form, live streaming, YouTube… We literally tested every piece of social media inventory,” Andrew recounts.

The campaign revealed essential data points about the effectiveness of different platforms. Andrew observes, “Short form has a relatively low cost per view and per click, but it doesn’t convert. Long-form costs more per view and click, but it converts like crazy.”

Andrew Gives His Trends Forecast

Andrew envisions significant shifts in the creator economy. He predicts long-form content creators and live streamers will have the most sustainable careers. “If you’re not streaming or doing long form, you’re not going to have a career,” Andrew asserts. He advises using short-form platforms primarily for discoverability, suggesting creators “clip up your YouTube videos, clip up your live streams, and put them on TikTok.”

Panel’s chief anticipates changes in advertising pricing dynamics. Based on advertisers’ return on investment across different platforms, “Short-form advertising prices are going to crater, and long-form is going to go up,” he predicts.

Andrew emphasizes the importance of data-driven decision-making for marketing agencies. “Looking at the data and almost letting the data lead you,” he advises, noting that preconceived notions about creator effectiveness are often inaccurate. He recommends that brands “try to get your own inherent biases out of influencer marketing and just look at the data and follow that.”

How Panel CEO Andrew Franz Is Shaking Up Influencer-Brand Deals

Panel’s Future Vision

Andrew aims to expand Panel’s technology adoption among advertisers. The company is developing an advertiser-facing dashboard to provide clients with the same data insights used internally for campaign optimization.

“The long-term goal is giving the power that I’ve found in this tech and analytics and data that we’ve built to advertisers and whoever wants to use it,” Andrew explains. He strives for a future where marketers can directly access Panel’s data and creator network, potentially streamlining the process.

Valuable Piece of Advice for Creators

For newcomers to the industry, Andrew recommends studying successful creators: “Copy what other people in this space are doing… content creation is a huge copycat game.” He advises leveraging trends for initial traction and transitioning short-form success to long-form content or streaming for long-term career sustainability.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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